The Banias Spring emerges at the foot of Mount Hermon and flows powerfully through a canyon for 3.5 km, eventually leading to the impressive cascade of the Banias Waterfall. Access to the Waterfall is via an easy and pleasant family friendly path, refreshing to walk through on a hot day. The Banias combines history with nature and boasts the wonderful archaeological remains of Caesarea Philippi, the city built by Herod’s son Philip. The site also contains Crusader ruins and the remains of a far older pagan temple dedicated to the god Pan. For Christians, the Banias holds particular significance as the place where Peter recognised Jesus, and Jesus named Peter the “rock” on which his church would be built.
High up in the Golan, on the ridge of Mount Hermon, lies Nimrod Castle, an abandoned Crusader period castle. Here you will be presented with a fantasy landscape. The castle is huge, and beckons to be explored. As your guide will explain, although Crusader in period and style, the castle was built by by Al-Maliq al-‘Aziz ‘Othman in 1228 in order to block the passage of Friedrich II who threatened to march from Acre to Damascus flying the Crusader banner. It was extended and aggrandised by the Mamluk Sultan Beibars, whose insignia remains on a huge stone tablet. This is a massively exciting site which sparks the imagination of all who visit it.
Mitzpe Golani (also known as Tel Fahar) was the site of arguably the most important Golan region battle of 1967 and was the foundation for Israel’s taking the Golan Heights in that war. From this view point you can easily see how the position overlooks the kibbutzim of the North of Israel, and its corresponding strategic importance. This was a terrible and bloody war for Israel, and today you can still see and go down into the ditches from the 1967 war. This is also an ideal place from which to discuss the formation of Israel’s Northern borders with your guide – the discussion will extend back to at least the Sykes–Picot Agreement and the 1920s, to the 1947 UN partition plan, and eventually to the lead up to the six day war of 1967.
Golan Heights Jeep Tour
This two hour jeep ride is a fascinating and intense ‘off the beaten track’ experience. Your expert guide will drive you through a working agricultural kibbutz, explaining about the pace and style of life in this region of Israel. You will also explore the history and current day reality of kibbutz life from the historic ‘childrens’ house’ system to today’s need to diversity and modernise.
You will then drive off road into the demilitarised zone and along the Syrian border (security conditions allowing), viewing hidden Israeli army bunkers and positions. Your expert guide will provide background on Israel’s historical and current relations with her northern neighbours, together with an in-depth analysis of today’s complex situation in Syria and what it means for Israel.